Militants stormed a maternity hospital in the western part of Kabul on Tuesday, setting off an hours-long shootout with the police and killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers and an unspecified number of nurses, Afghan officials said.
While the battle was underway, Afghan security forces struggled to evacuate the facility carrying out babies and frantic young mothers, according to images shared by the interior ministry, news agency PTI reported
The clinic is supported by the aid group Doctors Without Borders, according to Unicef, the UN children's agency.
But the day's spasm of violence extended beyond Kabul. A suicide bomber in eastern Nangarhar province a hotbed of the Islamic State group targeted a funeral ceremony, killing 24 people and wounding 68. And in eastern Khost province, a bomb planted in a cart in a market killed a child and wounded 10 people.
The violence could further undermine a peace process in the wake of a deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in February, which envisages the start of talks among key Afghan figures, including government representatives, and the Taliban.
Relentless, near-daily attacks have also left Afghan authorities ill-prepared to face the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 4,900 people in the country and killed at least 127.
India has strongly condemned the attacks in Afghanistan, terming them as "crimes against humanity."
A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said: "India strongly condemns the barbaric terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, including women and children, at the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, funeral in Nangarhar province and the army check post in Laghman province on 11-12 May."
It said such "reprehensible attacks, including on mothers, newly born children, nurses and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity."